The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu has asked the Military High Command to come clear on accusation that it has been providing protection to illegal small-scale (galamsey) mining firms.
The call came following heavy military and police presence at Geo Professional Services, a foreign mining firm, undertaking small-scale mining at Tontokrom in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region.
The security personnel at the place told the Lands Minister that they were authorised by one Lieutenant Colonel Arhin to patrol the foreign mining firm.
This came to light when the Lands Minister, Mr Amewu and his entourage toured some mining sites in the Region ravaged by the activities of illegal mining.
Mr Amewu said his outfit had not signed any contract with the Military to provide security at any foreign mining firm.
“My Ministry has not signed any contract with the law enforcement agencies neither the Minerals Commission to patrol an illegality,” he fumed.
“The Military hierarchy must come clear because they must answer questions as to how they are protecting an illegality,” he said.
The Lands Minister noted that the fight against galamsey would be very difficult if the law enforcement agencies that supposed to enforce the law were condoning illegality.
“I believe the 15 security personnel are here because they have been paid to patrol therefore we have to interrogate this, “he said.
The Minister authorised the arrest of four foreigners comprising three Russians and a Ukrainian who were managing the firm without licence.
The Minister said available data revealed that the foreign mining firm had been mining in the area for the past 25 years without paying royalties or taxes to the government as well as neglecting its corporate social responsibilities to the host communities
The mining company was using the licences of three local firms to operate a 500 acres of land.
The local firms are K. Afriyie and Sons Precious Metal Limited, King Solomon Mining Company and Kamil Mining Company.
The suspects had been placed in police custody at the Central Police Station in Kumasi.
They would be transferred to Accra for further investigation.
They were charged for engaging in small-scale mining, which is a preserve for the indigenes.
The Minerals law allowed only Ghanaians to undertake small-scale mining.
The Lands Minister said the government was not against foreigners but they must operate within the remits of the law.
Mr Amewu and his entourage comprising officials from the Forestry Commission  rounded-up the four-day in the Region on Monday; May 22.
GNA